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10 Houseplants That Clean the Air

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
April 16, 2012; 8:31 AM ET
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Indoor air quality has become a real problem. Indoor air often contains formaldehyde from carpets and adhesives, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paints, petrochemicals from fragrances, and a laundry list of chemicals from fabric softeners. While it's always important to let some fresh air in, research by NASA found that many houseplants are capable of reducing harmful toxins in the air, such as: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene (TCE), toluene, and more.

Benzene is a cancer-causing agent found in many glues, solvents, paints, and art supplies. Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing agent that off-gases from furniture and carpets. Trichloroethylene is a solvent used with metal parts, dry cleaning, paints and paint remover. Toluene is found in nail polish and nail polish remover as well as foam.

Related:
8 Best Plants to Grow Indoors
8 Hard-to-Kill Houseplants
24 Common Plants Poisonous to Pets

Here are some of the best air-purifying houseplants and the toxins they are most effective at reducing:

1. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii)-benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene (TCE)

2. Chrysanthemums or mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium)-benzene, formaldehyde, TCE (the most effective plant against TCE according to NASA)

3. Common Ivy or English Ivy (Hedera helix)-benzene, formaldehyde, TCE, toluene, octane, terpene (the most effective plant against benzene according to NASA)

4. Ficus tree or Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)-benzene, formaldehyde, TCE, octane, terpene

5. Mass cane (Dracaena massangeana)-benzene, formaldehyde, TCE (the most effective plant against formaldehyde, according to NASA)

6. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)-benzene, formaldehyde, TCE (Avoid lilies if you have cats - they can be toxic)

7. Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida)-benzene, TCE, toluene, terpene

8. Red Ivy (Hemigraphis alternate)-benzene, TCE, toluene, octane, terpene

9. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum, Chlorophytum elatum)-formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide

10. Wax plant (Hoya carnosa)-benzene, TCE, toluene, octane, terpene

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